(Source: CNET)
Accuses iTunes Developer of Adopting Distribution Practices Similar to Malware

Mozilla CEO John Lilly has a beef with Apple, which he made clear yesterday after he blasted the company on its decision to package its Safari web browser with the latest version of iTunes and Quicktime.

Specifically, Lilly laments Apple’s decision to bundle Safari in a way that users have to opt-out of its installation during an otherwise routine upgrade to iTunes. Pushing Safari on users who may not understand what they’re doing “undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers,” writes Lilly, “and that’s bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web.”

He refers to Apple’s decision to include Safari in the latest batch of updates issued to Windows iTunes users via Apple Software Update, which lists Safari as a program requiring updates regardless of whether it’s installed or not. As such, claims Lilly, unsuspecting users are lead to install the browser when they might not be inclined to do so: “Apple has made it incredibly easy — the default, even — for users to install ride along software that they didn’t ask for, and maybe didn’t want. This is wrong, and borders on malware distribution practices.”

Apple’s decision to mimic the “malware distribution practice” – where spyware is bundled with a program’s installer for various reasons, usually to recoup development costs – is a problem because “software makers are trying to get users to trust [them] on updates.” When presented with Apple Update (or similar updaters from Java or Adobe), most users will simply click the “install all items” button, “which means that they’ve now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally.”

“It’s wrong because it undermines the trust that we’re all trying to build with users,” writes Lilly, “because it means that an update isn’t just an update … maybe [it’s] something more,” ultimately undermining “the safety of users on the web by eroding that relationship. It’s a bad practice and should stop.”

Critics at The Register point out that bundling Safari may also erode Firefox’s market share, by using the power of defaults to force another browser on users – and going so far as to speculate that Safari could usurp the millions of dollars of search engine royalties that Google pays the Mozilla Foundation . In a follow-up posted Sunday evening, Lilly disclaimed that sentiment, noting “unequivocally” that “it isn’t about competition.”

“To the contrary: competition is good — necessary, actually … as a consumer, I want more competition,” wrote Lilly. “Firefox is better because there’s competition from Safari and others — that’s great, because it means that normal people can find the software that works best for them and make their own choices.”

Apple promised last summer that it would use iTunes to help crack Safari’s sagging 5 percent market share, with Steve Jobs noting that Apple receives more than 500,000 download requests per day for the Windows version of iTunes.

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